Volkswagen’s U.S. diesel woes have consumed most of the oxygen in the room for the past year and a half, but Europe has its own issues with the automaker’s emissions-spewing powerplants.
While owners on the continent haven’t had to hand their vehicle over in exchange for cash, the region’s less-stringent environmental laws still require that VW offer a fix for its rigged diesel engines. Good news for air quality, but bad news — apparently — for drivers. Many owners have discovered the fix turns a perfectly fine (though illegal) vehicle into a nightmare. (Read More…)
At some point, a scandal grows so big that investigations begin to overlap. When the scope widens even more, investigators suddenly begin investigating each other.
That’s the current situation in the Fatherland, where American law firm Jones Day recently had its offices raided at the request of German authorities in hot pursuit of executive skulduggery. Jones Day, of course, is the internal investigator hired by VW to probe the shady dealings that led to the diesel emissions scandal.
What started with unusual emissions readings at a West Virginia university now feels a lot like The Departed. (Read More…)
Suspecting that a Volkswagen executive might fly the coop if released on bond while awaiting trial, a U.S. District Court judge slammed the cell door shut until early next year.
Oliver Schmidt, who was arrested early this year during a stopover in Miami, is currently cooling his heels in a Detroit jail after being slapped with conspiracy and fraud charges relating to the diesel emissions scandal. With a potential jail sentence of 169 years looming over his head, even $1.6 million ponied up by family and friends wasn’t enough to secure his release. (Read More…)
The Volkswagen diesel emissions saga has reached a logical legal conclusion. The automaker entered a guilty plea in a Detroit federal courtroom this morning, admitting to a vast, 10-year conspiracy to fool environmental regulators through the use of emissions-cheating defeat devices.
As penance, Volkswagen AG must now pay $4.3 billion in criminal fines and civil penalties. That sum can now be added to the multi-billion U.S. buyback of hundreds of thousands of 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles manufactured since 2009. While the penalties would be a bitter pill for any automaker to swallow, it’s a fraction of the fine allowed under federal guidelines.
Had the court pursued it, it might have sparked a brand fire sale down at Volkswagen Group. (Read More…)
There’s no end to the layers of intrigue swirling around the upper echelons of Audi.
Last week saw four engineers who worked on the company’s emissions-rigged diesel engines fired, with one of them, former engine development chief Ulrich Weiss, claiming in court that CEO Rupert Stadler was privy to the deception.
Audi fired back with a lawsuit threat against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations” and the revealing of internal documents. Now, the German publication Bild has released information on a potentially damning document that was reportedly locked away in Weiss’s safe since 2015 for exactly this purpose.
Weiss pulled out the document in a German labor court Tuesday to prove he’s the “pawn” his lawyer claims. (Read More…)
Politicians from Volkswagen’s home region of Lower Saxony are raising questions over the unanticipated departure of the German automaker’s compliance chief, Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, saying they have concerns over how the supervisory board handled the matter. There has been a long-standing apprehension among investors and business analysts that VW is too tightly controlled by its founding Porsche-Piech family and incapable of amelioration.
On Wednesday, Deutsche lawmakers called for a formal inquiry on the matter.
Hohmann-Dennhardt was brought aboard very late in 2015 to assist in Volkswagen’s reformation following the diesel emissions cheating scandal. However last month, after only a year on the job, she left abruptly with a sizable pension and gargantuan severance. (Read More…)
Audi appears to be going on the defensive and closing ranks around its CEO following a tumultuous week filled with accusations and revelations.
Late last week, the automaker fired four top engineers who worked on the brand’s diesel technology, including head of engine development Ulrich Weiss. Germany’s Handelsblatt reports that Weiss, who has been on paid leave since the diesel emissions scandal erupted, presented documents in court that appeared to show CEO Rupert Stadler had knowledge of the defeat devices as early as 2012.
Audi is now seeking charges against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations,” as well as revealing internal documents. Unfortunately for the automaker, another German media outlet has gotten its hands on an infamous PowerPoint presentation. (Read More…)
U.S. owners of illegally polluting Volkswagen diesels have already flown to sunny vacation spots or picked up a new vehicle with the help of buyback and compensation checks. North of the border, over 100,000 Canadians who own a 2009-2016 TDI model are waiting for their cut of a $2.1 billion settlement.
However, Volkswagen’s “we’re sorry” gravy train isn’t rolling into everyone’s driveway. Some owners are finding that their vehicles are stuck in a cross-border limbo. (Read More…)
Ferdinand Piëch, former chairman of Volkswagen and grandson of Beetle creator Ferdinand Porsche, is in hot water with his former company.
The ex-chairman resigned in April 2015 — five months before the diesel emissions scandal broke — after the company’s steering committee put his future to a vote. Piëch lost after his rival, then-CEO Martin Winterkorn, saw VW management rally to his side.
A suspiciously hostile divide existed between both men at the time, and recent comments by Piëch may explain why the two doomed executives became such bitter enemies. To say that VW’s supervisory board isn’t happy with his comments would be an understatement. (Read More…)
Owners of certain Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles caught up in the diesel emissions scandal will receive hefty payouts, even if their vehicles aren’t bought back by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen and supplier Robert Bosch GmbH have agreed to a settlement worth a combined $1.55 billion, Reuters reports. The agreement covers about 80,000 vehicles outfitted with emissions-cheating 3.0-liter diesel V6 engines — 20,000 of which will return to the automaker for good.
While parting with a beloved luxury vehicle can be difficult, cold hard cash has a way of softening the emotional blow. (Read More…)
Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, Volkswagen’s outgoing compliance chief, will receive at least $12 million for her time with the company — with the possibility for as much as $16.1 million (15 million euros). Hohmann-Dennhardt, who was brought on to get VW through its messy emissions crisis, was canned by the automaker last week. The company attributed the “amicable” split to a “disagreement in the understanding of responsibilities and future operating structures within the function she leads.”
New reports indicate that a central aspect of those disagreements involved Volkswagen’s upper management attempting to stop Hohmann-Dennhardt from exposing any additional information on how the emissions scandal transpired. (Read More…)
German prosecutors say their investigation into Volkswagen’s dirty dealings now includes the company’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn.
The long-running probe into the diesel emissions scandal recently expanded from 21 suspects to 37, Reuters reports, placing Winterkorn solidly under the microscope. Winterkorn stepped down just days after the scandal went public in September 2015.
The former top boss recently emerged from the shadows to tell a German committee he knew nothing of the decade-long conspiracy under his watch, though prosecutors suspect he may have known more than that. (Read More…)
Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, Volkswagen Group AG’s compliance chief, is leaving the company after disputes with VW’s senior management regarding her responsibilities. Those duties primarily revolve around ensuring the automaker adheres to regulatory requirements — something Volkswagen has had a difficult time with as of late.
After only a year with the company, Volkswagen confirmed Hohmann-Dennhardt will be leaving at the end of this month. According to an official statement, her exodus is “due to differences in their understanding of responsibilities and future operating structures within the function she leads.”
Considering her role on the supervisory board consisted wholly of seeing Volkswagen through the devastating emissions crisis while improving its image and ensuring it did not commit anymore egregious unlawful acts, you have to wonder what those differences in understanding entailed. (Read More…)
As far as anyone knows, former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn spent the last 16 months on a desert island.
After resigning his post in the turbulent days after the diesel emissions scandal went public, Winterkorn stayed out of the spotlight, shying from any public appearances. That is, until now. As indictments land in executives’ laps and top brass grow wary of leaving the country, Winterkorn showed his face to a parliamentary committee in Berlin. (Read More…)
Three German judges claim that Volkswagen’s actions leading up to the diesel emissions scandal was akin to putting horse meat in lasagna.
Bloomberg reports that the comparison was made when a court in Hildesheim ordered the car manufacturer to buy back someone’s Skoda Yeti at full sticker price. The ruling was warranted, as VW intentionally committed fraud, the court said. (Read More…)